The CNG Derby, the richest and most prestigious event on the local racing calendar, is turning out to be a very competitive affair. Yesterday, favourite for the $500,000 purse, Onetokeep, did what could be his final preparatory gallop on the main track, in company with stablemates Piston and Rings (Nobel Abrego) and Bandwagon (Brian Boodramsing). The chestnut thoroughbred was anchored by race-day rider Brian Harding behind his two companions as the trio galloped from the 1,000-metres mark. The trio rattled off a quarter-mile in 24.90 seconds before registering the time of 37.20 for three furlongs. It was at this point that Harding eased the Mary Camacho-owned horse alongside his stablemates and was cruising on the bridle coming to the corner. The trio continued to run fast and recorded the time of 49.20 for the first 800 metres, before Harding eased Onetokeep into the lead before stopping the clock in 1:02.00.
Many opined that Onetokeep was not impressive but workmanlike. Whatever the opinion, Onetokeep came out of the gallop with flying colours, and champion trainer John O’Brien was happy. He stated: “He ran one minute last week, this was good enough. He does not need to run one minute today. He is well and we hope all will go well in the Derby.” Ten minutes later, thrice ‘Horse of the Year,’ Bruceontheloose was in company with Ignition Coil. The duo galloped over 600 metres as they prepared for the Diamond Stakes. Ignition Coil was on the inside of Bruceontheloose and the duo sped over the trip in a handy 35.40 seconds. The fractions recorded by the pair were 12.00 seconds and 23.80. Both were easy at the end, which sets up a most competitive Diamond Stakes. In this event they will lock horns with Readbetweendlines and Signal Alert from the all-conquering Glenn Mendez stables.
Readbetweendlines and Signal Alert are expected to gallop this morning. Two days ago, Free Passage ended his preparation with a sparkling gallop over 1,000 metres, when he raced over the distance in a fast 1:00.93. Trainer Derick Mosca is very confident that his improving gelding will run big and stated that it was the first time that Free Passage has ever galloped at 12 seconds to the furlong. He said, “Free Passage has gone from strength to strength. It would be great for his owner, Juan Navarro, to win the Derby.” Free Passage is undefeated on the main track in four career starts. The Jamaica-bred bay son of Image Maker/Select Princess will give Onetokeep a run for his money. He is a very strong contender. Venezuelan Lionel Ramos, who rode him to success in his last start over 1,750 metres, will again be flown in to partner the gelding. Last week the Rohit Dube-trained Big Thing galloped impressively when recording the good time of 1:02.00 for the trip. Big Thing will have the services of Cornelio Valasquez, and is expected to run a big race. He is expected to gallop today as will the Michael Carew-trained The Big Squeeze. Should Onetokeep win the Derby, he will become a millionaire having already amassed earnings of $741,000.